This World Is Not My Home: Photographs by Danny Lyon

Danny Lyon, Crossing the Ohio, Louisville, 1966

Danny Lyon, Crossing the Ohio, Louisville 1966. The Menil Collection, Houston, gift of Kenneth G. Futter,
Magnum Photos, and the Edwynn Houk Gallery © Danny Lyon. Courtesy

de Young Museum
September 29, 2012–January 27, 2013

San Francisco, CA, August 31, 2012This World Is Not My Home: Photographs by Danny Lyon, an exhibition of more than 60 photographs and photographic montages from 1962 to the present, traces the fascinating and wide-ranging career of a dynamic and ground-breaking artist. A leading figure in the American street photography movement of the 1960s, Lyon distinguished himself from peers like Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander through his direct engagement with his subjects and his concern for those on the margins of society.

Working in the style of photographic New Journalism, Lyon immersed himself in the world of his subjects, cultivating relationships and frequently capturing his subjects’ stories in highly descriptive, opinionated texts, which he published in several books alongside his photographs. Lyon rode with bikers, marched against segregation with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and spent hours inside the notorious death row “Walls Unit” of the Texas State Prison at Huntsville. His goal to present a charged alternative to the insipid documentation that pervaded the mass media led to the creation of hundreds of striking psychological, political, and aesthetically powerful images.

The 1960s were an extraordinarily productive decade for Lyon in which he became the first official photographer for the Civil Rights Movement, captured the members and mores of Midwestern motorcycle gangs, documented the destruction of housing and traditional architecture in lower Manhattan, and made intimate portraits of death row inmates in Texas prisons.

Since then, Lyon has tackled a broad range of subjects: life with his family in the mixed Native American and Latino neighborhood of Llanito in Bernalillo, New Mexico; abandoned street children in Colombia; the political turmoil in Haiti; the chaos of life in China’s booming, polluted industrial outposts; and most recently the Occupy movement in New York and Los Angeles. Throughout the years, he also made numerous films inspired by these and other subjects.

Drawn from the artist’s studio and the Menil Collection, in Houston, Texas, with supplemental works from private collections in the Bay Area, This World Is Not My Home features a selection of images from all periods of the Lyon’s career. Also included are a number of rarely seen montages in which the artist has arranged old and new photographs, in both color and black-and-white, to create poetic reflections on memory, family, and friendship.

Born in 1942 and raised in Queens, New York, Danny Lyon was inspired early on by the “absolute realism” of photographer Walker Evans, the propulsive prose of the Beat generation writers, and the photo scrapbooks of his emigrant father. With the support of his early mentor, Art Institute of Chicago photography curator Hugh Edwards, Lyon developed the restless, inquisitive, and compassionate vision that marks his work. Today his photographs are held in both public and private collections throughout the United States and internationally. He received the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for photography in 1969 and filmmaking in 1979, and he regularly exhibits at the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York City.   

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The exhibition is organized by the Menil Collection, Houston. At the Menil Collection, this exhibition was realized through the generous support of Michael Zilkha, David and Anne Kirkland, Mark Wawro and Melanie Gray, H-E-B, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and the City of Houston. At the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this exhibition is generously supported by the Pritzker Fund for Photography. 


Visiting the de Young Museum
The de Young Museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and located in Golden Gate Park, is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the nation’s fourth most visited art museums.  The de Young showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international textile arts and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.

Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118


Tuesday–Sunday 9:30 am–5:15 pm
Fridays (through November 23) 9:30 am–8:45 pm
Closed Mondays; Thanksgiving Day, November 22; Christmas Day, December 25; New Years Day, January 1

General Admission Tickets
$10 Adults; $7 Seniors 65 and older; $6 Students with current ID; $5 Youths 13–17.
Members and children 12 and under are free.        
Tickets can be purchased on the de Young’s website: All online tickets include a $1 handling charge.

Reservations for group tickets are available by contacting

Special Event
An Evening with Danny Lyon
Friday, September 28, 2012 at 7 pm

de Young Museum, Koret Auditorium


Danny Lyon will discuss his 50-plus-year career as a photographer and filmmaker with Julian Cox, founding curator of photography and chief administrative curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Lisa Sutcliffe, assistant curator of photography, SFMOMA. Book signing to immediately follow.

Advance tickets are required and available at
$5 for non-members, free for FAMSF members.